What It Feels Like To Have A Panic Attack

Ariel Lustre

It comes out of nowhere.

How the next minute plays out is very different. Your stomach starts feeling queasy, similar to dropping hundreds of feet on a roller coaster ride. Your heart starts racing, palms are sweaty, and you’re on the verge of regurgitation. You choose to ignore it because this can’t be happening.

Denial seems as if it’ll force it to disappear. It doesn’t. You can’t decide whether you’re going to faint or if you might actually be dying. It certainly feels like death, so it must be. Should you call 911 or your mom? You choose mom. She is your safe person, your anchor. As you reach for the phone, your hands are tingling numb, you begin to dial.
You’re really sweating now. Suffocating. Choking. The chest pain starts. You’ve reached the conclusion that every inch self control has vanished. It feels like you’re drowning. No one can see you but they can all hear you. It’s being in the driver’s seat of a car you know is about to wreck but the seat belt is stuck. Suddenly, you’re in the eye of this tornado panic attack with no escape.

You fully engage in the breathing techniques that should “help,” but they don’t. This particular state of being is comparable to being in a room full of people and having a social phobia. You wonder if you’re going crazy because this certainly isn’t normal.

After what feels like hours have passed, you hear the sound of your door unlocking. At last, you imagine a breath of fresh air may be approaching. She doesn’t need to do anything, just be there. Hold you. Then somehow despite having just faced death, you realize it’s over. Yet again. You survived the storm. Now the waves are crawling gently to the shore dribbling cool, salty water onto the sand. Cylinders of light are skating peacefully across the water.

Now, paused in perplexity, you can’t help but wonder when the next dark cloud will appear. TC mark

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